PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill admitted that she cast Missouri’s votes at Democratic National Convention with a bit of emotion.
Missouri’s senior senator was given the honor of announcing how the Show Me State was divvying its delegates. It was part of a roll call vote that made Hillary Clinton the first female presidential candidate of a major party.
That “first” distinction has follow around McCaskill and her family for a while. McCaskill was the first Missouri woman to get elected to a U.S. Senate seat in her own right. And her mother, Betty Anne McCaskill, was Columbia’s first female city councilmember.
“I was raised by amazing parents, especially my mom who really believed that women could do anything – and was really interested in politics when a lot of women weren’t supposed to be,” said McCaskill, a few minutes after she cast Missouri’s votes. “She made me say ‘trick and treat and vote for JFK’ when I was 7 and ... I thought stuffing envelopes was what all kids did when they were like 9 and 10 years old; she would have been so happy to be here tonight to see this. This would be a dream come true for her.”
McCaskill noted that she’s “been blessed and cursed, as she [Clinton] has, to be first a number of times in my career.” But she went onto say the “good news is once you have a first, you never have to have another one.
“And I think what she would say is that she is anxious to break that hardest and most difficult glass ceiling so that we don’t ever have to worry about breaking it again,” she said.
McCaskill endorsed Clinton very early in the primary process, a marked contrast to the 2008 election season. She initially told this reporter in 2007 she was going to stay neutral, but ended up backing then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. (McCaskill credits her children for getting her off the fence, adding earlier this week that they “remind me what I’ve always said to them – that I’m in this to try to do good and not for my own self-promotion.”)
“It was really hard,” McCaskill said on Monday. “A lot of my women supporters across the country were very disappointed in me. But it was a hard choice. They were two historic candidates, two qualified candidates, two great candidates. And it was one that didn’t come to me easily. Not so hard this time. This was easy.”
As for whether supporters of Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders can bury the hatchet, McCaskill noted that Obama received the then-New York senator’s support after he beat her in the 2008 election cycle. That gesture provided her with guidance for this particular race.
“This feels very familiar. And that’s one of the reasons I was so anxious to not ever say Bernie should stop, Bernie should quit running,” McCaskill said on Monday. “Because I remember how long Hillary Clinton stayed in, even after the numbers were pretty unforgiving. So I remembered what that felt like when I was prevailing, and I wanted to make sure I had patience that Bernie wanted to stay in it until the very last vote was counted – which I respected.”
Before she cast Clinton’s Missouri’s votes, McCaskill provided a shout out of sorts to Rachel Gonzalez. She’s a 17-year-old high school student from Independence and the youngest Clinton delegate in the nation.
Gonzalez said earlier this week she was a fan of Clinton’s from an early age, adding that she first went to a political rally when she was 9.
“In 2008, I had actually told my parents ‘Hey, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.’ And they crushed my dreams telling me that I wouldn’t be old enough to vote until I was 18. So being able to vote in this election and actually my first vote will be for Hillary Clinton is incredible.”
Wolf like me
The roll call vote was part of a busy day for Missouri’s delegation.
In addition to getting a surprise appearance from Sanders and a moving speech from U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, delegates also heard from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe. (Missouri Democratic Party chairman Roy Temple worked on the Democratic official’s successful 2014 campaign.)
While he said that he’s been able to have some success with a GOP-controlled legislature, Wolf stressed to the delegates that they need to have “the right Democrats and the right people in the House, in the Senate and in the governor’s seat.”
“That’s how we’re going to get to an equitable and fair society,” Wolf said. “We’re the party to do it. We’re the people to do it.”
Wolf said delegates at the convention had had a “robust, constructive debate” about what the right level for the minimum wage. But even though there will be disagreement over how high the wage should be, Wolf said there’s a stark contrast with the GOP.
“The folks in Cleveland last week, they didn’t mention minimum wage,” Wolf said. They don’t think there’s any problem with the minimum wage where it is. And that’s a major difference. So as we go into November, we need to recognize that we are a democratic party. We argue. We have great, fundamental disagreement about where we ought to be. But at the end of the day, we’re going to do a better job … than Donald Trump is going to do. And that’s the choice we’re going to have to have in this country in November.”